Obedient wife, less strife

Discussion in 'Tasawwuf / Adab / Akhlaq' started by Speck, Feb 25, 2021.

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  1. Speck

    Speck I know no speck so troublesome as self.

    I always thought that a good solid marriage is based on a good friendship. Opening up, being honest and being able to be vulnerable is key, yet we have ample examples around us where this doesn't happen and people endure sour lives.

    If a man does do all of this: "provide a roof over her head, feed her, clothe her... protect and care for her... spend time with her and give her emotional support when she needs it". Wow! ماشاء الله why wouldn’t any woman want to submit to and obey such a man? What could ever come out of that except for loyalty and enduring love and devotion? Yet, some men and women think that taking care of each other's needs is a chore, a burden.

    The husband is the leader and final decision maker, no denying. Obeying their husbands even if it against them or they don't understand it, such is the devotion of a wife who truly loves and submits to her husband. But we are also emotional and soft creatures. We know that you are not obliged to include us at all if you so wished, but you telling us of your thought process or even just a "hey what do you think?" means the world to us. It really does makes us feel loved, involved, and that our husband cares for us instead of him just making decisions unilaterally. We will obey you even if you impose the decision on us, but it is extremely hurtful to be left out of major decisions which impacts both lives.

    We want our husband to lead us by being vulnerable from a place of authority, by communicating clearly whilst showing grace and understanding of our subtle nature, not to rule with an iron fist. It's easier to lead by imposing, but you miss out on real opportunities - to hear a different point of view and what's coming from your wife's heart. "The best leaders have a high consideration factor, they really care about their people".

    I think the most important thing in all of this is to remember that both husband and wife are human. We all have moments of weakness, uncertainty, fear, pain, sadness. We all have lapses in our judgment. It could be that the husband decides to go with his opinion instead of his wife's but it turns out to be not a favourable one, it could also be that he seeks her counsel and goes along with her idea but it turns out that she was wrong. These things happen.

    If he agrees with his wife's viewpoint and takes the final decision accordingly but the outcome turns out to be unfavourable or not as expected, then he can't turn around and blame his wife: "I took the decision but you made me do this. It was your agency." This can easily spiral to more unpleasantness. "The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis."

    Similarly, if he decides not to take her opinion on board because his seems to be the sounder one at the time, then she shouldn't blame him no matter what the outcome is.

    Sure, hindsight always helps to gain a better perspective and they can discuss what didn't go so well, what could have been done differently and how they can both learn from the experience but they shouldn't be contemptuous, make cutting remarks and point blaming fingers at each other because they didn't get a desired outcome.

    Ultimately, it always helps to have your spouse in your corner. When your spouse is ready to overlook mistakes and faults (because no one is perfect), and is someone who will have your back when it comes to decisions and their outcomes, this gives incredible strength and courage. What a support!

    I hope I am correct in my understanding of this.

    May Allah grant us good spouses who will be a source of comfort for us.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
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  2. Aqdas

    Aqdas Staff Member

    The husband and wife relationship can be one of the most wonderful parts of a person's existence: of how a man and woman can come together, become bosom friends and spend a lifetime together sharing their most intimate feelings with one another and give and reciprocate a unique type of love.

    Two people who have no previous connection become the very best of friends.

    When this relationship is strong and as it should be, they are each other's pillars. They open up with each other and allow for vulnerability. They share thoughts, ideas, plans for the future, children, religion, current affairs, everything! After all, they are best friends.

    Each of them has rights and responsibilities. What is the wife's right is the husband's responsibility and vice versa. It is obligatory in Islam to first of all learn these and then to fulfil them.

    When there is a genuine, mutual love and understanding between spouses, then these rights and responsibilities become abundantly easier to fulfil. Why? Because each spouse is not forcibly doing anything, it is out of absolute willingness due to the strong bond they share. Nothing is forced, it is done willingly.

    The husband does not see his wife's rights as a burden and the wife does not see her husband's rights to be unmanageable.

    Therefore, the husband does not argue against the rights of his wife that he must provide a roof over her head, feed her, clothe her and that she is under no obligation whatsoever to provide a penny towards him. He must also protect and care for her. He should spend time with her and give her emotional support when she needs it. Firstly, because this is the stipulation in shariah and makes perfect sense and secondly, because of the immense bond they have, he wants to provide these rights.

    These are rights that Islam has given to wives that are not found anywhere else. Think for a second, she does not ever have to:

    1. Buy a house
    2. Buy food
    3. Buy clothes
    4. Find a job

    All these are her rights and it is obligatory for her husband to provide these for her perpetually.

    Similarly, the husband has the right that he be obeyed, that his wife make herself available for him, serve him, submit to him and treat him well. The wife gladly fulfils these things because they are the command of shariah and also because her husband fulfils her rights, gives her love, attention, emotional support and care and holds her in high esteem. Therefore, she willingly submits to him.

    Because of the unbreakable bond they share, they discuss matters together. They are a team and each member brings value to the team. Whenever an important issue arises, it is important for spouses to discuss different options and bounce ideas off each other. They consider each other's viewpoint and share thoughts. However, unless there is one and only one final decision maker, chaos will ensue. At every juncture, there will be argumentation about the final decision.

    The roles of husband and wife need to be well defined so that conflict is minimised.

    Look at the worldly sphere. There is one monarch. Countries are run by one president. One prime minister. Organisations have numerous heads of department but one chairperson. A country has millions of citizens but one leader. His is the final say.

    If there were more than one, there would be regular conflict. One decision maker would say one thing and the second will insist on another. Now what?

    There must always be a final decision maker.

    Allah says in the Quran:

    'If there had been gods beside Allah in the heavens and earth, then necessarily, they would have gone ruined.' (21:22)

    Because if there were more than one gods, they would disagree and there would be chaos as one would will one thing and the other(s) would will something else. Creation would be in ruins.

    This is a most powerful evidence for tawhid. Because there is equilibrium in creation, this proves there is only one God, Allah.

    For a peaceful home then, there must also be one decision maker.

    Allah says:

    'Men are in charge of women, as Allah has made one of them superior to the other, and because men spend their wealth for the women; so virtuous women are the reverent ones, guarding behind their husbands the way Allah has decreed guarding.' (4:34)

    Abdullah ibn Abbas رضي الله عنهما said in its commentary:

    '(Men are in charge of women) they are in charge of overseeing the proper conduct of women, (because Allah hath made the one of them) the men through reason and the division of booty and estates (to excel the other) the women, (and because they spend of their property) for the support of women through paying the dowry and spending on them, which the women are not required to do. (So good women) He says: those wives who are kind to their husbands (are the obedient) they are obedient to Allah regarding their husbands.' (Tanwir al-Miqbas)

    Imam Qushayri writes in its commentary:

    'Men are in charge of women because of that with which God has preferred the one over the other and because of what they expend of their property.' (Tafsir al-Qushayri)

    The word Qawwām in verse 4:34 means: 'to establish something or to protect it.' (Mufradat, p.416)

    In Lisan al-Arab and Taj al-Urus: 'man is qawwām upon his wife meaning he fulfils her needs and maintains her expenses.' (Lisan al-Arab, 12:503; Taj al-Urus, 9:35)

    Imam Alusi writes in commentary of 4:34:

    'Men are in charge means just as a ruler makes injunctions for his subjects, men do so upon women. This is because men have been given superiority in things such as prophethood, messengership, imamat, adhan, iqamat, takbirs of tashriq, etc. which are specific to men.' (Ruh al-Ma'ani, 5:23)

    Men are created physically stronger than women. Also, the entire responsibility of financially supporting, protecting, caring and looking after the wife and children are upon the man. Hence, for this natural and acquired rank that men are given, they are also accorded the leadership of the home.

    So when the wife understands and appreciates that the whole financial running of the household is catered for by her husband, she also understands that he is the head of the house and is the decision maker. When he is obligated to buy a home and house his wife in it forever, clothe her through her life and feed her until her last breath, then naturally, the wife should be obedient to him.

    Yes, husband and wife should amicably discuss matters. Mayhap something the husband have missed be thought of by the wife. Though the husband isn’t obligated to consult his wife, it is closer to etiquette towards his wife to consider her thoughts and comments and weigh them up honestly and sincerely. There could be times his thought process is flawed and she has come to a wiser conclusion. So he should decide according to that.

    So, it is seen that the wife should make her points and then leave it for her husband to make a decision.

    This process makes for a peaceful home and existence as each spouse knows their role. The wife is perfectly content knowing her husband takes her view into account, without bias; and the husband seeks her opinion knowing two heads are better than one but that his is the final choice.

    Like in any team, a true leader considers the ideas of the people in his team. It is profitable if a man seeks mashwarah (counsel) with his wife and considers her opinions. If after the discussion, the position of his wife is stronger and fairer, he should adopt it. If his decision is better, he can put his points across too. This way, his wife doesn't feel hurt or that his decision was imposed. She won't feel that she isn't part of the process and that his decision was taken unilaterally. The husband continues to maintain his rightful position as the head of the household.

    This goes back to a man having good communication and leadership skills. When the wife knows that her husband is a fair and just person, is someone who communicates his feelings and opinions in a clear manner and that he values her opinion, she will be content regardless of the decision he makes.

    When she feels that she can be safe and vulnerable with him, and is certain that he loves, cares and values her; she will automatically honour his decisions and submit to him as the decision maker.

    Allah ta'ala grant us perspicuity in our vision.

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